Tipperary’s victory over Cork on Sunday was a very welcome boost to Eamon O’Shea’s men who have endured some harsh comment over the last month - they now progress to the last four with the three teams which have beaten, Clare, Kilkenny and Galway.
There was a marked improvement in link-up play and tempo and despite being short, probably six first choice players, they achieved the means to give the management what they now want - to win the league.
It’s a shift in emphasis from the top and it brings with it a shift in application too for the players. Tipp, according to Eamon O’Shea have been training very well but he did admit to media afterwards that more ballwork can now commence with the extra hour in place. He wants the players to ‘like’ the ball more and be more confortable in possession.
Thing is, Tipp were quite comfortable in possession on Sunday and although a few errors proved very costly and threw Cork a lifeline, the problem would seem to be what happens when they don’t have possession.
Cork punished slips in concentration to the full. Three goals could be attributed to this and a few points as well. And, while no team will ever manage a perfect performance where no errors are made, Tipp need to start cutting down on those errors to take the next step forward. That will be worked on in the coming weeks and you get the sense from O’Shea that he is relishing hitting the pitch with whistle in hand, ideas in mind and natural light to play with.
Tipp have not really worked on a particular style yet according to the Manager - that has been evident alright - and he seems excited about the prospect of ‘summertime’ with the chance to shape and mould his team.
The Manager is under no ilusions about the victory - it was good, but there is much to work on. There were disappointing aspects - conceeding 4-19 is no joke and gives credence to the belief that Tipp have defensive difficulties. Perhaps, but Brendan Maher at centre back, James Barry at wing back, and Conor O’Brien certainly hurled with a spring in their step, while the two Stapletons also had their moments.
Bergin and Woodlock at midfield formed a good partnership and the Tipp attack with O’Dwyer chipping in with 1-7 from play, managed a combined total of 3-21 from play. Cork banged in 3-13 from play in what was a very open game alright.
So, Tipp have to do something about leaking big scores then? Yes, agrees Eamon O’Shea, but devising a means of achieving this will be a big challenge. Tipp’s average concession rate in the league so far comes in at 3-21. When the championship kicks in such a rate will not be sustainable.
Tipperary meet Clare in the league semi-final next day out and will be underdogs for the clash given Clare’s star status at the moment.
So, what will Tipp supporters be looking for from the team?
*They will be looking for more improvement in the defensive sector.
*They will want the same level of workrate from all players as was witnessed on Sunday.
*They will want to see a more recognisable style coming through rather than a liassez faire approach .
*They will need to see less goals against and more confidence emanating from between the sticks.
*They will want to see Tipp players enjoying their hurling again and playing with confidence rather than with a heavy touch and nervy approach.
The big hope is that with tuition and counsel in Dr Morris Park over the next few weeks, Tipp will rumble with Clare in a better frame of mind than they did on March 9th.
Teams and Scorers:
Tipperary: D Egan, P Stapleton, C O’Mahony, C O’Brien 0-1, J Barry, B Maher, T Stapleton, K Bergin 0-1, J Woodlock 0-2, D Maher 1-1, N McGrath 0-2, J O’Dwyer 1-7, S Bourke 0-2, S Callanan 0-8, N O’Meara 1-0. Subs: R Maher, J Forde, L McGrath, E Kelly, J O’Brien.
Cork: A Nash 1-0, E Keane, D Cahalane, K Burke 0-1, L McLoughlin, C Joyce, W Egan 0-1, D Kearney 0-2, P Haughney, B Lawton, S Harnedy 2-0, P Cronin 0-1, P Horgan 1-7, C Lehane 0-3, J Coughlan. Subs: R O’Shea, C McCarthy, A Cadogan.
Referee: B Kelly (Westmeath)